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Old Aug 27, 2012, 4:08 PM   #1
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Default Looking to buy a superzoom for my 7 year old son

He is an avid birder and wildlife enthusiast.... he pretty much monopolizes my Canon T3i anytime we go out on a hike and I would really like to get him his own camera. He is very responsible and while I was initially nervous giving him my T3i, he has treated it with respect and I am not worried about him mistaking it for a toy and treating it as such. Key feature of course is weight and as big a zoom as I can get for the birds. He isn't strong enough yet and has a hard time pointing my T3i with a 70-300 hanging off the end but has nevertheless gotten some pretty damn good photos.

I was thinking about the Kodak Z990. The biggest pro of course is that it is "only" $180 or so and you get an enormous bang for the buck (huge zoom, RAW, etc.). Yes, it is slow, etc. etc. but for he is not shooting action sports and I don't think will have a problem with it. Biggest con is that Kodak is bankrupt and support may be questionable if needed.

I can't think of any alternatives without spending at least twice as much (Canon SX40 HS, Nikon Coolpix P510. While they may be better cameras overall, I find it hard to justify 2X the price for 7 year old. If he seriously sticks to it and gets a bit stronger, I can get him something better.

What do you guys think? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
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Old Aug 27, 2012, 4:13 PM   #2
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would the zoom on a canon sx230 be enough? if not, how about the sx260? i've owned them both and they do a pretty good job with moving subjects. not quite as much zoom as you have in mind, but pretty good, and my experience with kodak cameras (not to mention user reviews) don't lead me to believe that he'll have good luck as they tend to have some shutter lag.
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Old Aug 27, 2012, 4:28 PM   #3
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Yeah, I thought about those, but I think birding could use as much zoom as possible. I like the 800-ish range that the Z990 (and the Nikon and Canon I mentioned) get to. Your point on the Kodak is well taken though, thanks! Don't know if a firmware update addressed the shutter lag. I'll have to read up on that.
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Old Aug 28, 2012, 4:02 AM   #4
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My concern with the Kodak would be the sluggish AF at longer focal lengths- which one might find frustrating with fidgety birds at distance.
Still- given the price,one might suggest it's a fair compromise and a decent "starter" camera.
Another option might be to source a second hand SX40hs...
I owned one and it was perfect for birding- especially with its adjustable AF frame size- keeping it small enables you to catch birds surrounded by branches etc which may otherwise confuse the AF system.
Here's a couple snapped with the SX40- the one on the feeder at iso 1000 and the one on the log at iso 400...
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Old Aug 28, 2012, 6:52 AM   #5
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It's great that you're supporting your son at that age with his interest in photography. I'm a firm believer that a parent should find something that their child is interested in- and support them in it. He's at a prime age to undertake photography on his own.
I bought my son a guitar at that age... he still curses me for ruining his life. Says that if he ever had a son he'd buy him a set of law books! (He's now 41 and has his own successful band)
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Old Aug 28, 2012, 8:05 AM   #6
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Simon, thanks for posting the lovely pictures! Do you find the SX40's shutter lag to be acceptable? I had posted the same question on another forum and one of the replies seem to suggest that the SX40 shutter lag would be unacceptable for birding.

And thank you Wes! Yes, he is budding naturalist and right now is limited mainly by his strength and endurance.... lifting and pointing my T3i and the 70-300 lens can get a bit too much for him after a while.
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Old Aug 28, 2012, 10:15 AM   #7
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I had no problem whatsoever with shutter lag- which when pre-focused (half press of shutter button) is instant.
The AF speed isn't as quick as my current bridge,the Panasonic FZ-150, but it certainly isn't slow.
Have a look at this review- and if you, scroll down it has the timings and shutter responses.
Note that the times are for AF and Shutter lag combined.
Also shot to shot times can be much improved if you switch the image review off (the review of the image you've just taken)- I'd say about 1 second.
http://www.ephotozine.com/article/ca...a-review-18216

I'd say,personally,its the best "birder" out there (better than my current Panny') with good high iso control (for a bridge), which you'll need often at the long end of the zoom in less than ideal lighting.
It also has the best image stabiliser I've used to date....

Here's another image- this one in "auto" due to whizzing by on a bike..!!
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Last edited by SIMON40; Aug 28, 2012 at 10:24 AM.
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Old Aug 28, 2012, 11:04 AM   #8
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Nice photos! My son would definitely love it. Now I just have to justify it to my wife
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Old Aug 28, 2012, 11:10 AM   #9
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That's usually the hardest part...!!
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Old Sep 9, 2012, 9:51 PM   #10
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The Panasonic FZ150 which I own is a very good camera with excellent IQ and a good RAW mode .

Its also very lightweight !!
Here are some example shots taken by me in RAW ! :

http://500px.com/photo/13495101
http://500px.com/photo/13268143
http://500px.com/photo/10917027

Last edited by wrik; Sep 9, 2012 at 9:55 PM. Reason: I needed to correct it
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